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Saturday , October 1 2022

Education … down the drain

This post has been read 9868 times!

In less than two decades, our situation has deteriorated in two opposite directions, and this has not happened since the establishment of modern Kuwait one hundred and fifty years ago.

On the one hand, we see with complete clarity a strange escalation in the levels and amounts of bribery and administrative corruption in all government institutions, except in rare cases, and even these will soon have their turn. We see a complete collapse of the educational and moral systems in a way that we have not seen before.

A few years ago, the government issued instructions to delay the payments of all entities that provide services to the government and have procurement, supply and service contracts due to the deficit in the state’s balance of payments.

Despite all the pressure on the government to monetize part of its investments abroad or borrowing from local and foreign banks, it chose not to take any decision, leaving the matter, as usual, to the factor of time.

The disaster occurred during the period of suspension of the state’s payment of its financial obligations to the contracting companies, materials and services which spanned five years or more as these people found in front of them one of two ways, either bankruptcy or bribery of senior state officials or seeking help and efforts of honorable MPs.

This moral collapse that occurred during the past few years has become rooted, semi-public, and a custom that is difficult to get rid of now. It is rare to find a government agency that does not demand a return or interest in exchange for passing a transaction, financial or otherwise. Even with the recent increase in the state’s resources as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the state’s ability to pay, it came too late, and corruption became part of the government’s work.

On the other hand, we see an accelerated and continuous deterioration in the education sector, so that the classification of Kuwait has reached low levels, and this is what university professors sense in the quality of the outputs that come from secondary schools, and the extent of their low levels to a crying degree, not to mention their lack, almost, of all basic skills including understanding and logic.

Professor Iqbal Al-Othaimeen says, in a distinguished article about education, that she faced an unprecedented situation when she had to give 100% of her students a failing grade. What saddened her the most was the extent of the interventions of parents and officials the next day, asking her to change the result.

Al-Othaimeen believes that the reason behind this deterioration is the corruption of the education sector, which has shaken social confidence in the educational system, exacerbated inequality, and destroyed development, with widespread fraud, bribery, illegal and random appointments, an increase in the number of unqualified teachers, and manipulation in promotions.

Students also feel that they do not need to learn as long as success is guaranteed in all cases. A large segment of them also became convinced that the system works in corrupt ways and that bribery is necessary to get things done, a method of work that students later transfer to their professional and daily activities in society.

Al-Othaimeen says that the corruption of education has serious economic and social effects, which are long to be explained. Teachers also have the strongest influence on the quality of education, but do we have enough teachers who can be trusted?

Then the professor proceeds, and at great length, to develop solutions to the problem, which I will not touch upon but it is not possible to talk about reforming education without reforming politics and economics, a process that is not easy to understand, let alone application.

For more information on the subject, you can refer to Al-Othaimeen’s article in Al-Jarida newspaper (13/2).

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf

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